Some years ago I was at a children’s birthday party when a little girl started choking. Panic ensued.
I was in another room when her dad, fear etched on his face, came rushing in to find me. But before I got to the child, a woman intervened and dislodged the small plastic ball the youngster had inhaled and was blocking her airway.
The woman wasn’t a doctor, nurse or paramedic. But she had done a first aid course and knew exactly what to do.
A year on, I attended the same party and we talked about the near-tragedy. So shaken were the parents who’d witnessed it, that nearly every one of them had had first aid training since or read up on it.
I found it very reassuring, but in truth it shouldn’t take such a crisis to spur us into action. Of course, we want to help when we see another person in trouble. But what most quickly realise is that they simply don’t know what to do if someone collapses in the street, is clutching their chest or gasping for breath.
Valuable minutes are lost to panic or waiting for someone else to take charge.